Now that I’ve got your attention, let me let you in on a secret.
The top twelve foods for weight loss are double agents. They’re also twelve of the top foods for health.
Here’s why: all provide some combination of the elements your body needs to run smoothly, to perform its metabolic tasks, to nourish and nurture the cells, to boost the immune system and to help the body detoxify and eliminate the stuff that doesn’t belong. And while that sounds a lot like a definition of what you need for health, it also happens to be precisely what’s needed for weight loss. You need the body machinery running smoothly and you need to give it the fuel it needs to perform the tasks you’re asking it to perform- whether those tasks include toning muscle, burning fat, performing brain surgery or chasing grandchildren around the lawn. And in the nutritional version of “Star Search”, these twelve foods are all candidates for superstardom.
Now, let’s be real. There are other foods that could easily have made the list. Certainly you could make a case for strawberries, raspberries or blackberries. Low-calorie bioflavonoid and enzyme rich grapefruit is a serious contender. Green (or black) tea would make the cut except it’s not technically a food. Raw certified milk probably belongs on the list, and there are nutritionists who would argue, not without reason, for spices like cinnamon (which can help control blood sugar) and herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme and ginger all of which are rich in antioxidants and other valuable compounds. But listen, no one said the nominating committee (in this case, me) was going to please absolutely everyone.
One more thing: Nuts get honorable mention. They’re a top food for health, containing heart healthy fats and a variety of minerals, but they’re oh-so-easy to overeat. However, in reasonable portions (like ¼ cup) they’ve been shown to have enormous benefits when added to the diet (they even help with weight control). Consider them collectively- almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachio and macadamias- as the “fifth Beatle”, a phantom member of my top twelve list that would have made the cut except for the fact that “Top 13” didn’t sound as catchy as an even dozen.
1. Blueberries (A recent animal study showed that ½ cup a day improves memory)
2. Broccoli (An amazing source of phytochemicals including the cancer-fighting indole-3-carbinole. The calcium in broccoli is better absorbed by the body than the calcium from milk)
3. Kale (The superstar of vegetables with the highest known antioxidant capacity)
4. Tomatoes (High in vitamins and lycopene, which may have a protective effect against prostate cancer)
5. Oatmeal (A wonderful source of fiber, as well as one of the only food sources of GLA, an important fatty acid. Go for the slow cooking kind, not the instant)
6. Eggs (One of nature’s most complete foods and a highly bio-available source of protein. Get the free-range kind which have omega-3 fats, and don’t be afraid of the yolk! A close runner-up in the perfect protein sweepstakes is whey protein powder)
7. Salmon and sardines (Two of the best sources of omega-3 fats. Sardines are a health food store in a can)
8. Cantaloupe (A great source of beta-carotene and a high-volume low-calorie filler-upper that also happens to be delicious)
9. Garlic and onions (Both members of the allium family of vegetables they are loaded with phytochemicals that confer numerous health benefits. They also make food taste good!)
10. Water nourishes, replenishes, and is needed for every cellular process in the body.
11. Soy (naturally fermented) Whatever controversy exists about soy, everyone agrees the naturally fermented kinds like miso and tempeh are a valuable addition to the diet. The edamame beans are great as well
12. Lean meat (The iron and B-12 are best absorbed from meat, and it’s a great source of protein. Small portions can absolutely be part of an effective diet for both weight loss and health).